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Cordless Impact Drivers, continued

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12-Volt

DeWalt DW052K-2

The DeWalt 12-volt impact driver is the heaviest of the 12v drivers but also drove the fewest fasteners on a charge. The tool is well built and seems likely to stand up to heavy use. Unlike the impact drivers from other manufacturers, the body of the DeWalt tool is at nearly a right angle to the handle, which improves the comfort of the grip during extended periods of use. This driver has the most torque of the 12-volt drivers, and it easily drove the biggest lags that I use. The DW052k-2 kit includes the driver, two batteries, charger, and plastic case.

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Hitachi WH12DM

The Hitachi WH12DM was the most convenient of all the drivers I reviewed. An adjustable belt clip keeps the tool within easy reach and provides space for an extra driver bit. This tool is so light and compact that there were a few times when I didn't realize I had it on my belt. An attached wrist strap helps keep it secure when you're working in precarious situations. Of all the drivers, this one was the most comfortable to use. The kit includes the driver, one battery, charger, and molded case. Kits with two batteries (WH12DHB) are also available.

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Makita 6916D

The 12-volt impact driver from Makita was disappointing, primarily because of the tool's poor ergonomics. During a deck installation, I found that the tool's angled handle made my hand slide toward the top, where it rubbed uncomfortably against the tool's body. Also, I could actually feel the two halves of the tool twisting in my hand while driving lag screws. I don't think the tool would split in half, but it made me a little wary. The tool is well balanced, however, and the battery slid on and off easily. The 6916D kit comes with molded case, extra battery, and charger. Keep in mind that the two Makita drivers use different batteries and chargers. So if you already have some Makita tools, make sure your purchase is compatible.

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14-Volt

DeWalt DW054K-2

The 14.4-volt DeWalt driver is well balanced and comfortable to use and has plenty of power (it snapped two lags when they hit a hard spot in the wood during testing). The battery has the shortest run time of the 14.4-volt drivers I reviewed, so if you wanted to do sustained heavy work with this tool, you'd need to keep an extra battery and charger on hand. I had a hard time changing driver bits with this tool at times, but that may have been the fault of the particular driver I was testing. Even so, a quick pull on the trigger in the opposite direction usually snapped the bit loose. The DW054K-2 includes the driver, two battery packs, charger, and plastic case.

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Milwaukee 9081-22

Even though Milwaukee's 14.4-volt driver is the largest and heaviest of those tested, its extended run time and comfortable grip made its weight and bulk easy to overlook. The aluminum gear housing proved its durability when it survived a fall from the top of a 5-foot stepladder. If I was building decks or doing other high-volume work, this is the driver I'd choose. This driver has the lowest torque rating of the 14.4-volt models, but I didn't notice any difficulty when driving large lag screws. Although the battery is reversible for tight spaces, I couldn't find an application where that feature was a benefit. The 14.4-volt model 9081-22 includes two batteries, charger, and plastic case. The case features a nice bit storage area with a hinged lid to prevent bits from floating around during transport.

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Makita BTD150SA

Although the Makita BTD150SA is the second largest of the impact drivers I reviewed, I didn't have too much trouble getting it into tight spaces. It had plenty of torque for driving lags into pressure-treated lumber and flushing up screws in plywood. As with the other Makita, I found the angle between the handle and the tool's body uncomfortable during extended periods of use. The somewhat large battery pack added to its tail-heavy feel. This tool makes use of a high-tech battery-charger system. When the 30-minute diagnostic charger is plugged in, a fan starts running and a series of lights informs the user of the battery's condition. Makita says this system is unique, and it's included in the kit, along with a blow-molded case and two batteries.

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Specs and Test Results

Manufacturer

DeWalt

DeWalt

Hitachi

Makita

Makita

Milwaukee

Model

DW052K-2

DW054K-2

WH12DHB

6916D

BTD150SA

9081-22

Voltage

12v

14.4v

12v

12v

14.4v

14.4v

Street price

$199

$229

$280

$260

$400

$280

Weight

3.75 lbs

4.1 lbs

3.5 lbs

3.3 lbs

4.0 lbs

4.75 lbs

Torque

1,000 in-lb

1,150 in-lb

885 in-lb

887 in-lb

1,150 in-lb

950 in-lb

Tool length

6 1/2"

6 1/2"

6 1/2"

6 1/2"

7 1/2"

7 1/2"

Impact rpm (min-max)

2,400-3,000

2,400-3,000

2,300-3,000

2,300-3,000

2,300-3,000

2,200-2,500

No. 1/4x4 lag screws driven on single charge

25

27

31

36

45

60

No. 2 1/2" drywall screws driven on single charge

125

155

134

175

168

224

Cost of extra battery

$50

$60

$65

$80

$125

$75

Features and accessories

Case, (2) XR pack 1.7Ah NiCad batts, charger

Case, (2) XR pack 1.7Ah NiCad batts, charger

Molded case, (2) 2.0Ah NiCad batts, charger

Molded case, (2) 2.6Ah NiMH batts, charger

Molded case, (2) 2.0Ah NiMH batts, charger

Molded case, (2) 2.4Ah NiCad batts, charger

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